Developer, town officials share plans for affordable housing at former police station

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Photo/via Town of Hudson Renderings show current plans for an affordable housing complex on the property of the former Hudson police station on Packard Street.

By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

HUDSON – The former Hudson Police Station at 62 Packard St. is moving towards its future as an affordable housing development, as town planners and a developer are preparing to pursue funding, though the process could stretch over years. 

Permitting will begin in July with a presentation to the Department of Housing, which will offer comments. If it moves forward, the project would then undergo local oversight by the Hudson Zoning Board of Appeals, which can issue a comprehensive permit to the developer that would supersede existing zoning and allow the project to proceed as envisioned. 

“The current [zoning] doesn’t allow multiple family buildings, but we’d rather not go to town meeting for a zoning change,” Director of Planning and Community Development Kristina Johnson told the Select Board at their June 21 meeting.

“The Town is the applicant for the project,” Johnson explained. “We will work hand in hand with the developer.”

Metro West Collaborative Development, a nonprofit community development corporation, submitted its project proposal in April of this year and was recently selected by the Affordable Housing Trust. 

“Metro West is an extremely reputable affordable housing developer, and will be working with the town to make sure this development is fully vetted, both by the Affordable Housing Trust and the town,” Johnson told the Select Board. 

Metro West’s proposal envisions 40 units in a “neighborhood-scale” arrangement, the core of which would be a 31 unit, 2.5 story “community apartment” building. Three smaller buildings would each include three townhomes.

Photo/via Town of Hudson
Renderings show current plans for an affordable housing complex on the property of the former Hudson police station on Packard Street.

The two sets of structures would be separated by a parking lot with 40 spaces. 

The homes will range from 30 percent to 60 percent of area median income, according to Metro West Community Development executive director Jennifer Van Campen. 

Gross rents, including utilities, would range from $1,250 in the ten cheapest one-bedrooms to $2,800 in the single priciest three-bedroom. The most common rent would be $1,400 in 14 two-bedrooms. Most units would have one or two bedrooms, with only a handful of triples, according to the April proposal. 

“We think we’re not going to have any major changes in the design, but that is the purview of the ZBA,” said Van Campen, who cautioned that “What will then become a slow, tortured process is state funding,” which could take years. Metro West will pursue the next available application round this winter, but Van Campen said success in the first year is unlikely. 

“You will not be invited to a ribbon-cutting for a couple of years,” she concluded. 

Metro West predicts a total development cost of about $17.4 million, the bulk of which will be state funds and credits. The project proposal includes a required local match of $325,430 in town of Hudson Community Preservation Act Funds and an additional $9 million construction loan from Eastern Bank.

“Some of these 40-B projects can be a cash cow for developers,” said Select Board Chair Scott Duplisea.

Convened after the Police Department moved out of the 62 Packard Street building in 2017, the Packard Street Reuse Committee also reviewed Metro West’s application. The Committee was composed of neighborhood members and representatives of the Hudson Affordable Housing Trust, to which the 62 Packard parcel was transferred by vote at town meeting last year. 

“My other goal was that we have local control here, and that’s what’s happening,” Duplisea added. “I’m very happy to hear that the oversight and everything will stay local.”

Debate over the future of the old police station has been a hot button issue. Abutters have worried about developments that might appear out of place in their neighborhood.

At the same time, town officials have worried new census numbers could drop Hudson below the 10 percent threshold necessary to remain in compliance with state affordable housing laws. If that happens, developers would be able to sidestep local zoning and build affordable housing units in any district. 

The Packard St. project could increase the proportion of affordable housing units in Hudson, preserving local control, officials hope.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to remove phrasing that incorrectly said Select Board Chair Scott Duplisea had also been a member of the Packard Street Reuse Committee. The Committee consisted of Anna McCabe, Kevin Santos, John Parent, Shawn Sadowski, Jeffery Supernor, Dennis Murphy, Michelle Resendes, Anne Marie Lourens and Steve Huehmer.